Witches come in many different types and from various religions. Just because a person is a witch, does not mean they practice according to one specific method. There are witches who are Wiccans of various different traditions, such as Seax Wicca, Dianic, Isian, Gardnerian, Alexandrian, etc. Wiccans typically, but not always, consider witchcraft to be their religion. However, there are also witches who, in addition to practicing their craft, also have their separate base religion such as Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs, etc. and various other religions. There are even witches who do not practice any religion at all, they simply hone their witchcraft as a tool they use in their life. The various types of witches are every bit as varied as the types of human beings themselves.
When you decide to be a witch, you need to research the different types of the craft, explore different belief systems that interest you and pick the one that suits you the best. Being a witch does not mean that you have to turn your back on the religion you currently practice. If you are happy on the spiritual path you are currently traveling, then, feel free to stay there and simply add practicing the craft to your repertoire. If not, then seek a path, with or without religious overtones, which calls to your soul.
For example, I was raised in a religion, which I could not, in good conscience, follow and could not agree with their ways and practices. What I had been taught to follow and believe in was completely unacceptable to me, so I started seeking a different way to believe. The search was long and had many false starts from about the mid-1980s on, but I finally found the one that made sense to me, which I could believe in.
I am primarily an eclectic witch. I do not have a specific “religion” to adhere to such as Christianity or Buddhism, but I do follow many of the same tenets of the majority of world religions. I do have various deities whom I believe help me do my work, including a favorite, which appeals to me on basic levels, with whom I work to practice my craft, Not all of my deities are aligned with the same ethnic pantheons. Just as my biological ethnicity is diverse, so are my deities. Some are Egyptian, some Celtic, some Roman, etc. but they all have specific purposes or reasons to be included in my path.
Some witches choose to work with a generic “Gods and Goddess” or more of a “Lord and Lady” type of craft and that is great if that is where they are happy. My personal spells are written in many different forms, as seems right for each occasion. As such, I may refer to a specific deity, to a paired God and Goddess or a Lord and Lady, a specific trinity, or even two trinities combined. I may even call on elemental quarters, and in a few specific spells I have even used the names of Archangels as guardians, whichever best applies in each instance to my way of thinking when I am writing the spell. If it seems right to me when I am in the act of writing, that is how I will write it. It does not mean that I endorse one way over another, wen it comes to writing and casting spells, that is what I mean by eclectic.
Some witches believe that all the various Gods named in all the different pantheons are the same one, just different facets shown of the same entity. The same for the Goddesses, they are all just different facets of personalities of the same Goddess. If this is your opinion, then it is right for you. Period. Only your belief matters when it comes to your way of practicing your craft.
However, for witches who want to work with a specific deity or deities, it is not just about calling on them to do your bidding. Working with a deity is about having a relationship to get things done. The choice to work with a specific pantheon or a specific deity, set of deities, or without deities entirely needs to be a careful consideration for each witch.
There are many books, websites, groups, etc, which will tell you to call on this or that specific deity when working a specific spell or type of magick. Think about it. If it were you and someone was only calling on you when they wanted something, or needed something from you… how long would you hang around for them? How willing to work for or with them would you be? What if they formed a relationship with you, brought you gifts, spoke with you about personal matters, shared the same concerns as you and occasionally called on you for assistance or to help them with a problem which was already near and dear to your heart? How different would that be? Forming a relationship with deities you intend to work with is imperative.
Choosing personal pantheons or deities, however, can be difficult unless you study and read about them beforehand. You may want to choose the pantheon that comes from your ancient peoples, your ancestors or you may end up choosing something completely different that calls to you on a base level, perhaps something from a past life that remains close in your psyche.
If you feel a need for deity in your magick, first, read about each specific pantheon you are considering and see whether they appeal to you or not. If not, there are plenty of others to choose from across every continent and throughout history. From various Native American pantheons, to Japanese, Hindu, African, Greek, Sumerian, Roman, Norse, Egyptian, and many more, all you have to do is visit a local bookstore library or various websites to learn more about them. In reading over the pantheons, you may even discover that one specific deity calls to you from one pantheon and another deity calls to you from a different pantheon. Your pantheon may end up being as diverse as the world today or you may feel more at home within a single pantheon.
Second, try forming a relationship with them. See which ones “speak” to you which ones you feel comfortable working with. Try a spell out with them and see how well you work together. In magick, working with a deity is all about teamwork. If you feel stilted or uncomfortable in working with a specific deity, your magick will be impaired; your impact will be lessened or ineffective.
Finally, remember that this relationship is important and treat it as such. Just as you would not want your significant other expecting you to do all the work while they sit back and reap all the benefits, deities need to be respected and appreciated in much the same manner. If you expect them to do all the work while you just sit back and reap all the benefits, then you are bound for disappointment. Taking an idiom from a popular religion… what you sow, you will reap, or in other words, what you put into the relationship is what you will get out of it. Or “Nothing from nothing leaves nothing”, as the song says.
For myself, I approached choosing my deities from a more experimental method or via a more scientific approach, if you will. I researched the pantheons that I was interested in and worked with the specific deities that I thought I would work well with on a few spells. I judged the way we worked together, the comfort level, the efficacy of the workings, etc. and respectfully thanked the ones I did not choose and let them know that I appreciated them but that I did not feel we were “right” together and stayed with the ones that felt right for me. Surprisingly to me, the Celtic, Native American, and Greek pantheons, which had always fascinated me as a child and young adult, turned out to be mostly ineffective for me, but in learning about and working with various deities, from other pantheons, I ended up finding the right ones for me.
As always, each witch has to judge of what is right for their soul, what calls to them and makes sense to them.